Mother - Daughter mornings

My daughter is my alarm clock. She wakes at (or before) dawn and I hear her small voice calling, “Mama? Mama? I finished sleeping.”

That is how my day begins. 

We pull open the curtains and search for the sun, or if we’re up before (as is common in winter), we search for the setting moon and the morning star floating just above the rooftops of London. 

While I may not always be ready to start the day, I’m always ready to receive her warm, sleepy, nuzzling hugs and kisses. 

What I love about the morning is it’s possibility. The night has absolved all of yesterday’s disappointments and the sun brings a new day full of promise. 

Each morning starts the same. We get dressed, we make porridge, we brew coffee, and we invert into a few downward dog poses to clear the head. These routines are carefully choreographed steps that prepare us for the day to come. In the endlessly repetitive actions there is a sense of possibility. 

What will we do with this one wild day?

Will we go to town to see the ducks on the river and share babyccinos? Will Little One go to nursery school so that I can spend a few uninterrupted hours in my studio? Will we set up the craft table and draw uncountable numbers of stars and moons (just as many as are in our unfathomable universe)? 

Each day is a collaboration. 

For years I have wanted to collaborate with my mother. I have dreamed of writing a memoir or novel together, but it has always seemed too overwhelming. How to start? Especially since we live so far apart? 

I decided I needed to think of a smaller project to start with. Something we could do daily, but would add up cumulatively into something rather large. 

Since we both love mornings, we decided to take a photo each day before noon: just one picture. It could be of anything at all. It's about illuminating, and making beautiful, the random objects we see each day. The cup of coffee. The bird feeder. The bookshelf. 

We may be separated by 6297 kilometers, but we share the same aesthetic sensibility and way of seeing. We love the same things, wear the same colours, and read the same books. 

I hope you can see the connections and similarities in these photo duets. 

Here is the first instalment... 











A month in review: August

Where did August go?

In the next few weeks the seasons flip from summer to autumn. It's still hot, but there's a crispness to the air that makes me want to buy school supplies. I think once my BIG illustration project is finished I'll take an inventory of my art supplies and refresh the stock. Some of my brushes are over a decade old, and are very well-loved (which means they are frayed beyond repair and can hardly hold a point any more.)

I've been fishing fallen leaves from the water in our bird bath, and the heather bush in the corner of our garden is blushing with the promise of deep pink buds (which will only bloom sometime in mid- winter).

For most of this month it was too hot to do anything but the essentials: look after Little One and furiously paint illustrations for the deadline coming up in early September.

Highlights for August:

1. Getting bedside tables delivered (after six months of balancing my book and water glass on a storage box)

2. Making the boxes from the aforementioned beside tables into a two-room house for Little One.

3. Running through the sprinkler with Little One on hot afternoons.

4. Sharing conversation with close friends around the braai (bbq)

5. The heat? I'm not sure I enjoyed it that much, but it was remarkable.

6. Watching the Olympics with Little One. "Go Tanda!" she shouted. (Translation: Go Canada!)

{The house: Little One inside, Trudy outside}

Books read: 

1. Villette by Charlotte Brontë

2. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by T. E. Carhart


The Age of Lead

by Margaret Atwood (this is actually a short story: worth reading)

4. Women in Love by D H Lawrence

By the numbers: 

4: Braais. We love marinated chicken skewers, herb-dusted halloumi, corn on the cob, salad, garlic bread and of course, ice cream for dessert.

30: Kilometers walked. Yikes! No wonder my legs ache before I go to sleep.

16: Pages of my journal filled.

3: Submissions sent.

1: Gallery visited. I sat at stared at St Francis of Assisi in Meditation by Francisco de Zubaran for an hour in the National Gallery.

{Van Dyke Brown: one of my favourite colours}

August Stats: 


: 494

Bloglovin: 916

Come follow along!

Posts from Past Augusts: 

Let's paint the town

Not so daily drawings

The Prairie Wind bustles down the street

Houseplants in London

How I write

When is a bookshelf not a bookshelf?

Adventures in the Netherlands

My grandmother's garden

Selling in Spitalfields Market

Goals for September: 

Seeing this big project coming to an end has inspired me to think about what to do next. I feel that the writing part of my life has been neglected recently. Most of you know the illustrating side of my life, as I share it quite freely here, but did you know that I love writing just as much?

My goals for the month:

+ Enjoy our holiday in Greece! Yay! I can't wait to sketch the cerulean Mediterranean and the whitewashed houses clinging to the rocky hills.

+ Write. Write. Write. Anything. I've finished a short story, which is now on the submission rounds. What to write next? Perhaps a bundle of blog posts?

+ Daily drawings. Because they're like yoga for my fingers and my creative mind.

Are you writing a monthly review post? Feel free to share a link below in the comments. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments! 

{Almost daily walks along the Thames}

My week in a drawing

It was a bright and cloudy day, perfect for wandering along the Thames with Little One in the early morning. Even at 10 am it was almost empty; we shared the cobbled walkway with a couple of pedestrians and a flotilla of seagulls. We listened to Big Ben chiming the quarter hours ("Bing bong!" said Little One) and watched the waves ripple over the low-tide waters of the river. 

Thick, fluffy clouds scudded across the sky.  The sunlight flashed morse code: sun, shadow, sun, shadow. The city winked back: glimmer, glint, glimmer, glint.

I wished I knew what the sun and the city were talking about... what was their secret conversation? 

Little One and I met a friend and we shared hot, buttered toast, berries, and lattes (but only steamed milk for the littlest of us). Then, we covered our faces with "mer-may" (mermaid) stickers, much to the amusement of the clouds and the city; they winked and blinked their approbation. 

It was liberating to do something so brave. It took a lot of courage to pack up the stroller, bundle up my almost-two-year-old and take a thirty minute train journey into the city. 

"I studied 


, just across the river." I pointed out the building to Little One. I used to wander those streets every day with visions of art in my head. 

"Wow," she said. It is her word for anything she approves of. 

All it took was a short train journey to open up our eyes. I had forgotten that London was right there, spread out like a fairy city, just beyond the doors of Waterloo Station. 

Flags of Love flying above Royal Festival Hall

A month in review: July

How can I summarize a month of such extremes? July spanned two continents, two homes, two different experiences of summer, and one long journey of flights and connections across a very wide, very cold ocean.

Through the changes and opposites, one thing has remained a constant: family. This month started with a family reunion which gathered all 40 of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and their spouses and children, on Hecla Island in the middle of Lake Winnipeg. We sang songs, breaking into spontaneous four part harmony whilst playing games or hiking. We hugged. We laughed. We cried. And we hated saying goodbye when the weekend ended.

The day after, we flew home to London. We returned back to our small home, on our little street, right near the vastness of Richmond Park. We recentered. We made our beds. We settled into the routines of our small nucleus.

Family, big or small, was what July was about.

Top 5 Highlights for July:

1. The family weekend on Hecla Island with all 40 aunts, uncles and cousins.

2. Seeing the walls of our walls stripped of peeling wallpaper and freshly plastered and painted.

3. Returning to my studio and my ongoing projects. I have fresh inspiration from three weeks away.

4. Splashing in the pool with Little One, and helping her down the toddler slide. She loves the water.

5. The London heat wave. While not exactly my favourite experience, it was certainly memorable!

Books read: 

1. A desperate fortune by Susanna Kearsley

2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (this one was too dark for me to finish.)

By the numbers: 

2.5 + 7: Hours in an airplane with an sleepy and slightly grumpy toddler.

2: Hours in Toronto airport trying to stretch our legs and letting Little One run around shouting "Ah-blane!" (airplane)

5: Rooms that are like new in our house with fresh, smoothly painted walls

7: Amazing, multi-petalled clematis blossoms in our garden

17: sketches in my moleskine sketchbook (check my Instagram to follow along as I fill the pages.)

May Stats: 


: 489 (+3)

Bloglovin: 903 (+4)


: 946 (+1)


: 507 (same)

Mailing List: 402 (sign-up in sidebar for bi-monthly updates and freebies!)

(Please pick your favourite platform and come follow along!)

Posts from Past Julys: 

Window Boxes in London

Today is Monochromatic

Taking care of small things

Adventures in Johannesburg

Goals for August: 

Returning to my studio has been refreshing. After three weeks away I have new eyes for the big project that needs finishing. The deadline is looming, so I'm working every minute I can.

My goals for the month:

+ Finish as much of my current illustration project as possible. It's contractually due Sept 1, but I'm sure I would have a little wiggle room if I needed it.

+ Write. Edit. Write. Repeat. I've completed writing the first draft of a short story, which now needs careful rewriting and editing. I'm looking forward to weighing every word.

+ Daily drawings. Because they're like yoga for my fingers and my creative mind.

+ Dedication to blogging. I love this little space. I love you, my dear reader. You make my little studio above the kitchen feel like it's connected to a world of friendly people. I want to connect more with you. What do you want to read about? Tell me. I will write it.

Are you writing a monthly review post? Feel free to share a link below in the comments. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments! 

My week in drawings : Kingston Upon Thames

Here are a few drawings from the past two weeks of life in Kingston Upon Thames.

We returned home from Canada and immediately entered a huge heat wave. Couple that with a sick toddler and two polish workmen tramping around the house trailing plaster dust and paint daubs, and you have the recipe for an adventure in patience.

So Little One and I cozied up in her bedroom (one of the only rooms not frequented by said workmen) and did wooden puzzles and sang songs. We picked lavender in the garden and rolled it between our fingers, letting the astringent, clean smell calm our senses.

We ate ice cream when things got really out of hand.

And while she napped, I did a few drawings in my moleskine sketchbook.